ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE IN THE POLICY AGENDA

Policy leadership and commitment is needed in Alzheimer's disease to optimise quality of care and support for patients, their caregivers and families.1,5

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a growing global health challenge affecting those living with the disease and their families.2,3

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tens of millions of people worldwide live with AD, and the number will grow in the years ahead, outpacing the health and social care resources needed to manage it. Someone in the world develops AD or another form of dementia every three seconds.3 Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are now among the top 10 causes of death worldwide, ranking 3rd in both the Americas and Europe in 2019.4

In Europe, the median age population is already the highest in the world. The proportion of people aged 65 and older is forecast to increase from 14% in 2010 to 25% in 2050. With so many more people living longer than ever before, policy leadership, commitment and action is needed to increase the number of people spending these later years in good health and well-being.1

Europe’s “silent epidemic”

60-80%

60-80% of total dementia cases worldwide are caused by AD.2

10M

Around 10 million people are affected by AD and other forms of dementia in Europe.5

7.5M

AD and other forms of dementia are more common in Western Europe, where they affect 7.5 million people.6

2/3

Two-thirds of individuals diagnosed with AD in Europe are women.6

The global burden of Alzheimer's disease

The number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to increase to 14 million by 2030, so will the economic and societal burden. By 2030 AD and dementia are expected to cost €250 billion to our societies: that’s as much as the entire GDP of Finland.8

16.0% of the vast financial costs of AD are attributed to medical costs (e.g., medical practitioner visits, hospital care, medical treatment/medications, etc.)9

42.3% to social/non-medical costs (such as community and social services, private and public funding care, homecare, special accommodations, pension income, welfare support and household expenses)9

41.7% to indirect/informal costs, in the form of unpaid work of informal caregivers (e.g., family members), which could mean loss of productivity as well as cut back on savings9

16%
Medical
costs
41.7%
Indirect
costs
42.3%
Social
costs

Elaborated from Gustavsson A, et al. 20209

Evolving Alzheimer’s disease management

The changes in the brain causing AD may begin up to 20 years before the first symptoms appear.2 A timely detection and accurate diagnosis of AD can reduce the burden for society and healthcare systems.9,10

Raising awareness of early-stage AD and building a patient-centered AD care team is important to support patients and their caregivers along the diagnostic journey. For example, in the event of a stroke, the expression “Time is brain” has driven increased awareness on the need to act fast to ensure better outcomes for the patient, reduce disability and cognitive damages. Stroke management also requires a multidisciplinary team that can ensure seamless patient transition.11

Furthermore, recent advances in breast cancer care have also shown that an earlier detection and treatment may lead to better patient outcomes. For example, a study predicted that women who participated in a screening program for breast cancer had a 60% lower risk of dying from breast cancer within 10 years after diagnosis. Early stage detection means tumors will be treated earlier and patients will respond better to therapy.12

Despite the proven benefits of early AD detection in improving patient outcomes, today healthcare systems in Europe currently lack the capacity to detect and diagnose AD at the earliest stage, before significant brain damage occurs.13

 

Addressing Alzheimer's disease in Europe

There are several steps European healthcare systems, payers and policy makers can take to address the challenges we face:13

  • Educating the public to raise awareness of early symptoms and remove the dreadful stigma around Alzheimer’s disease that prevent millions of people from seeking a timely diagnosis.
  • Training physicians and practitioners to ensure they have the knowledge and understanding to detect and diagnose AD at its early stages.
  • Applying clear, consistent, evidence-based guidelines for detecting, diagnosing and treating AD.
  • Removing obstacles to detection by expanding the number of dementia specialists, making diagnostic tools widely available and using technology to provide cognitive assessments on the scale needed to address the Alzheimer’s disease crisis.
  • Implementing widespread screening of high-risk populations, in line with the recommendations of the Models of Patient Engagement for Alzheimer’s Disease (MOPEAD), to identify patients early and put them on effective care pathways.
  • Adopt medical care models and social policies that support informal carers of AD, by duly recognising their rights and their unpaid work, safeguarding their own health and well-being and preventing them from falling into economic hardship.

 

Key political milestones in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease

Despite some key political milestones in late 2000s and early 2010s, and ongoing research funding initiatives, the European Union is lagging behind in the fight against Alzheimer's disease compared to what has been done at international level.14-21

Mouse over the dots to explore
EU Initiatives
Global Initiatives (G7/G20/WHO)

2008

Council Conclusions on public health strategies to combat neurodegenerative diseases associated with ageing and in particular Alzheimer’s Disease14

2009

European Strategy on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia15

2011

European Parliament Resolution on a European initiative on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias16

2013

G8 Dementia Summit Communiqué – Health Ministers’ Meeting17

2015

Council Conclusions on supporting people living with dementia: improving care policies and practices18

2016

G7 Kobe Communiqué – Health Ministers’ Meeting19

2017

WHO Action Plan on Dementia20

2019

Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers21

EU Initiatives
Global Initiatives (G7/G20/WHO)

2008

Council Conclusions on public health strategies to combat neurodegenerative diseases associated with ageing and in particular Alzheimer’s Disease14

2009

European Strategy on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia15

2011

European Parliament Resolution on a European initiative on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias16

2013

G8 Dementia Summit Communiqué – Health Ministers’ Meeting17

2015

Council Conclusions on supporting people living with dementia: improving care policies and practices18

2016

G7 Kobe Communiqué – Health Ministers’ Meeting19

2017

WHO Action Plan on Dementia20

2019

Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers21

Collaboration among multiple stakeholders, such as governments, HCPs, policy makers, and civil society organisations is needed to bring emphasis on AD research and reduce the burden on our societies, health and social systems.22,23